Recall of Tylenol, Motrin, Zyrtec and Benadryl for kids causing confusion for parents

recall of tylenol, motrin, benadryl, zyrtec causing problems for parentsParents and retailers have spent the last few days pulling bottles of children's Tylenol, Motrin, Zyrtec and Benadryl from their medicine chests and store shelves after the manufacturer and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration sent out a late Friday evening alert of a new recall.

McNeil Consumer Healthcare has recalled its infant and children's liquid medicine after consumer complaints revealed manufacturing problems affecting quality, purity and potency. More than 40 varieties, with differing sizes and flavors, of the popular over-the-counter drugs have been recalled, and parents are being warned not to administer any to their children.

Caroline Almeida, a spokeswoman for McNeil, told Consumer Ally there haven't been any adverse medical events associated with the recalled products. She said she didn't have details on what exactly was in the consumer complaints that led to the discovery of the manufacturing errors.

The mistakes ranged from providing a higher dose of the active ingredient to purity questions about inactive ingredients to the presence of solid particles in the liquid. The company didn't say how much extra medicine was involved, but did call the risk of serious medical events "remote." The particles included solidified product ingredients and "manufacturing residue," which Almeida identified as "tiny metal specks."

The question of how so many products could become fouled up in the same way is currently unknown, according to Almeida, who said a comprehensive quality assessment is under way. The recalled drugs, which were manufactured in the United States, were sold in the U.S., Canada, Dominican Republic, United Arab Emirates, Fiji, Guam, Guatemala, Jamaica, Puerto Rico, Panama, the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago, and Kuwait.


Consumers are advised to visit McNeil's product recall Web site before tossing the recalled bottles in the trash to input the product codes to get a coupon good for a future purchase. Almeida couldn't give a timeline for when the drugs will back on store shelves. Once the investigation into what happened is over, the company will need to implement corrective action, she said.

Meanwhile, the FDA is warning consumers not to give their children adult-strength versions of Tylenol or Motrin. The FDA is advising parents that generic versions of the recalled products are not affected and the agency does not expect there to be a shortage of children's medicine as a result.

Mike DeAngelis, a spokesman for CVS, said the recalled drugs were pulled from shelves at 7,000 stores over the weekend and that cash registers were immediately blocked from ringing up sales of the affected products. None of the CVS brand generic versions are made by McNeil, DeAngelis said, noting that consumers with questions are encouraged to talk to a pharmacist about alternatives to the recalled products. Shoppers at CVS are finding signs next to the emptied shelves with information about the recall.

Julie Koslen Diehl, a Chicago area mother of a 3-year-old who is expecting a new baby this month, went on Twitter today to complain that she found a partly used bottle of recalled Motrin when she went through her medicine cabinet. She also had another recalled product.

"I'm more annoyed than worried," she said. "One bottle has only one-third left in it, so the damage has been done, and probably not recently."
She is also was wondering whether a generic bottle she bought last weekend is safe.

Dr. Daniel Frattarelli, chairman of the American Academy of Pediatrics' Committee on Drugs and a pediatrician at Oakwood Hospital in Dearborn, Mich., said consumers shouldn't be afraid to give generics to their children.

"The manufacturers do a good job tracking through lot numbers, and if there were a problem with generics, we'd know about it," Frattarelli said.

He said parents shouldn't shun the entire category of children's pain relievers as a result of the recall. "You'd be pretty miserable every time you had the flu, an earache or sore throat," he said. "These are, for the most part, safe medications. There are alternatives on the market."

Diehl said that she'll probably end up buying the drugs again, despite the recall.
"What other options do I have if my kid gets sick again? I think I'll have to buy them again," she said.

That's evidently an argument that was persuasive with shareholders of Johnson & Johnson, who shrugged off trouble at the McNeil Consumer Healthcare unit to send company shares up $1.03, or 1.6 percent, to $65.33 in trading today.

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